When Should I Top My Cannabis Plants?

Learn when the best time is to top your cannabis plants in this helpful blog post.

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Cannabis plants are generally speaking, hardy creatures that can withstand a variety of different conditions. However, in order to achieve the best possible results, it is important to understand how and when to top your cannabis plants. This article will introduce you to the concept of topping your cannabis plants and provide some guidance on when the best time to do so may be.

Topping your cannabis plants essentially involves cutting off the main stem of the plant in order to encourage it to grow laterally rather than vertically. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons; primarily, it can help to increase yield as more of the plant’s energy is directed towards developing new flowering sites rather than maintaining a single large main cola. In addition, topping can also help to promote a more even canopy, making it easier to evenly distribute light and improve air circulation which can reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases developing.

So when is the best time to top your cannabis plants? Generally speaking, it is best to wait until your plants have reached at least 6-8 weeks old before topping them. This will give them time to develop a good root system and become established before they are subjected to any significant stressors. Once your plants have reached this stage, you can then begin to consider topping them if you feel it is necessary. However, it is worth noting that not all cannabis strains will respond well to topping – some varieties are simply too tall or too thin-stemmed and are more likely than others to suffer from damage as a result of being topped. As such, if you are unsure whether or not topping is right for your particular strain, it is always best to seek advice from an experienced grower beforehand.

The flowering stage

The flowering stage is when your cannabis plants produce the buds you’re going to smoke, so it’s important to get it right. The flowering stage usually lasts between 6 and 8 weeks, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the strain.

Topping your plants during the flowering stage will cause them to produce two main colas (the tallest, thickest parts of the plant) instead of one. This can be good if you want to increase your yield, but it can also make your buds less uniform in size and shape.

You should only top your plants if you’re sure you know what you’re doing, as it’s easy to accidentally damage them. If you do decide to top your plants, make sure you do it before they start flowering.

The vegetative stage

Cannabis plants can be grown outdoors in temperate climates from spring until fall, or indoors year-round. Most growers choose to transplant their cannabis seedlings or clones into larger pots during the vegetative stage, which allows the plants to grow larger before they are flowered. Once you have determined how big you want your final plant to be, you can begin the process of topping.

Topping is a training technique that involves cutting off the main stem of a cannabis plant just above a node (a point where leaves branch off the stem). This encourages the plant to grow lateral or side branches in addition to the uppermost main cola. By topping early and often during the vegetative stage, you can produce a cannabis plant with many top colas that are smaller than if left untrained.

When topping your cannabis plants, it is important to make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a node. This will help promote proper healing and prevent water and nutrient uptake issues. After making your cut, it is also important to remove any excess leaves that are obscuring your view of the remaining nodes on the stem.

It is generally recommended to wait until your cannabis plants have reached at least 12 inches in height before topping for the first time. From there, you can top as often as every week or two if desired. Just be sure not to top too late in the vegetative stage, as this can reduce yield come harvest time.

The pre-flowering stage

Cannabis plants have two distinct life stages: the vegetative stage, when the plant is growing leaves and stems; and the flowering stage, when the plant is growing buds.

Most growers begin totop their plants during the pre-flowering stage, when the plant is still mainly focused on growing leaves and stems. Topping forces the plant to grow two main colas (the main flowering buds) instead of one, resulting in a fuller, bushier plant with more buds.

Some growers wait until the flowering stage to start topping their plants, but this can be riskier since the plant is more delicate at this point and more likely to be damaged. If you do choose to wait until flowering, it’s best to start early, during the first few weeks of flowering.

When to top your cannabis plants

Topping is a form of pruning that involves cutting off the main stem of a cannabis plant just above a set of leaves. This forces the plant to grow two new stems from the cut area, increasing the number of potential flowering sites. The end result is a bushier, more compact plant that is better able to support the weight of heavy buds. Topping also increases airflow and light penetration to lower parts of the plant, which can improve yields.

Topping should be done early in the vegetative stage, before plants have started to stretch too much. If you wait too long, topping can slow down growth or even damage plants. Newbie growers often make the mistake of topping too late or too early, so it’s important to understand when the timing is right.

In general, you should start thinking about topping when plants are about 1/3 of their final desired height. So, if you’re aiming for 3-foot (1 meter) tall plants, topping should occur when they’re around 1 foot (30 cm) tall. Of course, this timeline will vary depending on the genetics of your strain and how big you ultimately want your plants to be. For example, if you’re growing a short and stocky indica strain, you may want to wait until plants are a little taller before topping them. On the other hand, if you’re growing a tall and lanky sativa strain, you may need to top earlier to prevent plants from getting too leggy. Experimentation is key to finding the perfect topping window for your favorite strains.


After reading this guide, you should have a pretty good idea of when the best time to top your cannabis plants is. Generally, you should wait until your plants have 4-6 nodes before topping them. This will give them plenty of time to develop a strong root system. Keep in mind that topping too early or too late can both lead to problems, so it’s important to find the right balance.

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